Those chain stores

So, I was going to leave work early and head over to spend my giftcard at Bloomingdale’s. The truth is, though, that I really dread shopping for clothes, especially solo, so I frittered my time away until I really couldn’t justify the cross-town excursion.

Still, I wanted a small diversion on the way home.

A book. I was talking books with my father this morning and we agreed that The Kite Runner which I gobbled is very diverting. He’s enjoying the new one now and said that another one I might like is A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian.

Well, when I was browsing around The Tattered Cover in Denver last weekend, I had seen Strawberry Fields recommended, had considered it, having heard good things about the first, but ultimately didn’t buy it.

My father said that he enjoyed the story of feuding sisters and a father slowly descending into senility. He said that it rang bells for him. (Did I mention he is a Yankee? A very dry one.)

So, I popped into the Time Warner Center (ugh—but between work and the subway) and up to Borders. But what was the book called? I got on their information computer: a search of “tractor” yielded board books on farming for children. “Ukraine” got me to guide books. A combination got nothing. I asked a clerk. He was using the same exact computer as I (shouldn’t employees be connected to a better database—an industry one, or books in print, or WorldCat?), had never heard of the book, and assured me that he knew a lot about contemporary fiction and that this book just didn’t exist.

I whipped out my iPhone and got trapped in the evil welcome message from T-Mobile.

I left the store.

On the escalator down, I googled “tractor ukraine” and the first hit was to an amazon page about Marina Lewycka’s novel. (The Complete Review’s coverage is here; an interview with the Guardian, here.) I rode the train down to West Fourth, walked through the Village (all abuzz for the coming of Pride Week, rainbows everywhere), walked into Three Lives (Best. Bookstore. Ever.) where the clerks were deep into heated discussions of a) alternative cold remedies and b) the Mets, found the book, bought it, an essay collection for my husband, and I was told there would be cake for me.